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Sustainable and Holistic Food Chains for Recycling Livestock Waste to Land

  • Start date: 01 February 2005
  • End date: 30 June 2008

Today farming systems need to be both multifunctional and sustainable. Sustainability 'audits' need to cover both 'upstreaming': the farm to fork and 'downstreaming': the farm to field aspects. Audits of this type are not possible without an integrated approach that brings together both social and economic drivers and the environmental consequences of farmer and policy decisions. In particular, more rigorous research linking microbiological research to public perceptions of risk; actual levels of risk, and public perceptions of 'traceability' in the food chain and water quality is needed.

In this project we bring together expertise to determine current perceptions of farmers, retailers, consumers and local 'downstream' industries to the issue of faecal indicator organism (FIO) transfers to watercourses and assess the impacts of changes in management practices (to reduce the risk of FIO transfers) on farm costs and costs to other stakeholder groups and the region as a whole. We will develop an integrated assessment tool to quantify the risk of FIO transfers at the farm-scale to enable targeting of cost effective management practices to reduce FIO transfers. Additional process based research will improve our understanding of the factors controlling FIO survival in soils as well as mechanisms of pathogen transport.